Silicon Valley Season Finale Review

(Each week, we’re going to kick off discussion about Silicon Valley season 4 by answering one simple question: what was the most awkward moment of the week?)

Do you remember that moment when you finally realized that Breaking Bad was following a villain’s origin story? We get almost the equivalent in this season finale of Silicon Valley, when we see Richard Hendricks breaking down over the prospect of losing everything he’s been working for. Yes, again.

This is the moment where we realize that Richard cares about Pied Piper and no one else. Not Gilfolye or Dinesh, without whom he would have had no product. Not Jared, who makes sure everything runs and is done correctly. And especially not his oldest pal Bighead, who he sees as a dummy he can strongarm into doing whatever dumb thing someone smarter than him wants him to.

He’s about to speed out of his driveway with a moving van loaded with a server containing all of his client’s data when he almost runs over his neighbor, who is walking by with her (maybe?) teenage daughter.

“Oh hey Ashley, that was close, Richard says after he screetches the van to a halt. “Well, look, it won’t be the last time you stop traffic, huh? Little hottie. But not now! When you’re older!”

To his credit (and really, he gets none) he manages to escape this better than his usual bumbling situations. Mostly by yelling “I’m sorry, we have to go, back the fuck up!” and taking off.

Silicon Valley Anton

Anton’s End

They’re rushing out in the van to bring Gilfoyle’s server “Anton,” which is currently holding all of their client’s data, to Standford so they can set it up there. It’s part of Richard’s dumb idea to save his company, which is already in breach of contract for having taken the data offline. Long story short, the servers is destroyed, but the data is saved…and it turns out Richard’s new internet works.

The fact that it took an entire season to get to this point is astounding, but that’s what you get when you spend most of the time spinning your wheels. While the actors all continue to do amazing work and the show is still lampooning Silicon Valley and its culture better than anyone, the season squandered any forward momentum it promised with the premiere and instead kept bringing things back to square one rather than push them forward.

Even tonight, when it looked like all was lost, and there would be no more Pied Piper… it restarted everything. It even ends on yet another scene of Gavin offering an acquisition of Pied Piper and Richard rejecting it, not having learned anything from nearly every single decision he’s made so far.

What happens when a show is so afraid to grow?

Silicon Valley Jack Barker

No Laughing Matter

That’s not to say there aren’t great moments. Jack Barker’s downfall as a result of his own hubris is delightful, as he gets kidnapped by the Chinese plant that balks at his “rousing” speech to increase production. It’s made even sweeter by the fact that he’s saved by Gavin, who we all know isn’t doing this out of the goodness of his heart.

No, he’s doing it just to prove one final point – that the plane route to Barker’s home from China takes longer, and he offers him a one-way trip there.

But so many jokes have no payoff. The biggest by far is that the day is saved by pure dumb luck, which is annoying because the previous times they have managed to dig themselves out of a hole came from the crew working as a team and using their brains.

But here, they’re just saved by the fact that Gilfoyle broke into Jian-Yang’s smart fridge to make a dick joke, and used Pied Piper’s system to do it, which then spread among all the other smart fridges. So… yay?

Other dumb jokes that don’t land are Gilfoyle’s cat eyes contact lenses (which are good for a momentary laugh, and then forgotten) and the way Jared’s “this is a guy who fucks” line gets recalled in the lamest way possible. And then there’s poor T.J. Miller, who has left the show. His iconic Erlich Bachman has been left in an opium den in Tibet, possibly for five years. You could make the case that it’s a fitting end, I suppose.

To say this has been an uneven season is an understatement, so let’s take a quick look at what worked and what didn’t.

Silicon Valley Truck

The Best Parts

Jared

If you’ve got a favorite character from this season and his name isn’t Jared, you’re wrong. He’s always been the show’s great unsung hero, but here, he’s finally been given his chance to shine…and by shine, I mean drop numerous hints about his dark and tortured past. While he hasn’t been given the chance to go full Jared just yet, he’s providing both the show’s heart and its twisted soul. Much like his character, Jared keeps the whole operation running.

Jian-Yang Versus Erlich Bachman

On the flip side of the coin, we have slapsticky, stereotype-laden humor done to perfection. Jiang-Yang has always been the butt of the joke, but this year, his feud with Erlich became legendary as he was finally given the ammunition to get back at his red-haired former patron. He didn’t squander that ammo one bit.

Gavin Belson

The deeper look into Gavin this season has been a delight, as Matt Ross is absolutely brilliant and does an amazing job of portraying someone who’s equal parts elitist and savant. He is everything wrong with the real Silicon Valley personified, someone unable to take a step back and look at himself, not even by giving up everything and moving to Tibet.

Silicon Valley Arson

The Worst Parts

The Female Characters

Where are they? The only two recurring characters are the duo at Bream-Hall. Suzanne Cryer’s robot affect is hilarious and Amanda Crew has so much potential, but the show never gives them much to do. What’s more, every time they introduce a new female character, it ends up just being for some sort of joke payoff, as evidenced once again in this episode with the horrified interviewee showing up for Jared’s job. It would be one thing if the show was making a clever commentary on the state of women in the tech world, but it isn’t.

The Plot

Good lord, this show likes to yo-yo more than Simon Woodroffe. It is utterly terrified of moving forward in any significant manner. While that may work for the characters, who are basically grown manchildren, it’s exhausting for the audience. At the end, there’s even talk of the team going back to Bream-Hall, and I had to pause to try and think of how many times they have worked with them (and then haven’t) before.

Season 5

If there’s good that can come from this season, it’s Richard telling Gavin that he’s going to acquire Hooli one day. If they can manage to set this up and stick the landing (and really, it’s something that could be done in one season), they could give a genuinely great villain turn to Richard. Since Richard has no greater enemy than himself, it only makes sense.

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